Today, we’re hearing from Marc Whiteway all about the joy of developing a love for travel. He is a content creator and filmmaker who lives and breathes travel. He and his partner, Eileen Aldis, discovered their mutual joy of travel when they first met in Iceland, and they’ve been exploring the world together ever since. More than sixty countries and millions of views later, people all over the world have been entertained and educated by Marc and Eileen’s passion for learning about people, places, and cultures.
If you are fortunate enough to have gone off into the world on your own big adventure, or if, like me, you are blessed to have gone on many big adventures all around this beautiful planet of ours, then you might remember the feeling you got the very first time you left home to see the world.
You had a new pair of hiking boots and a brand-new backpack, along with a full checklist of what to put into it, all the vaccinations you could think of from the travel clinic, and guidebooks in tow should you get lost on a street corner or need to find last-minute accommodation. I used to love paying a visit to my local bookstore before heading off on a trip to pick up a guidebook or two (or three) to take with me, but now, what with smartphones, that has, for the most part, become a thing of the past.
When travel opens up again — I mean really opens up — it will feel like going on that first big adventure again. It will be full of all of those jittery feelings you had the first time you stepped out of your comfort zone and headed into the great unknown.
For me, I can recall two defining trips that shaped my life and got me hooked on travel from a young age. The first was at the age of 18 with my sister Autumn when we visited New York City. I was working at a record store and saved up all of my earnings to take our first big excursion without parents, which felt like jumping behind the wheel of a moving vehicle and trying not to crash.
My folks kindly booked us into a cozy little apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan so we’d have a comfortable place to bunk during our time in the Big Apple. We had traveled down to experience CMJ, a college music festival that ran from 1978 to 2016, which attracted hundreds of bands to venues all over the city. Our trip would take us to multiple boroughs — some for the music and others out of interest — like exploring famous graffiti spots in the Bronx or bussing around Harlem and Brooklyn.
As kids, we always did wonderful summer trips with my parents, like driving out to visit relatives on sunny Vancouver Island or braving the mosquitoes to see our cousins in Manitoba. Then there were the epic road trips down to the States in an RV, like the one where we visited the Grand Canyon and “Superman” Dam before driving to our final stop: Disneyland.
We, of course, loved it so much that my parents flew us back there as a family when we were a bit older and then again when we were teenagers. Each trip took on a new meaning since my interests changed from being a four-year-old to an eight-year-old to a sixteen-year-old. By the time I reached my teen years, I was interested in skateboarding and punk rock, so I wanted to visit Orange County and shop for CDs at Tower Records while my sister stocked up on ska albums.
After the big NYC trip with Autumn, I went back to California — one of my happy places — again and again, stopping in Mexico on each visit. Experiencing a whole new culture was thrilling, and I soon began to dream of venturing further outside of North America. Something was brewing inside me that I didn’t have a term for but that I have since realized was a serious case of the travel bug.
Turning 21 (officially an adult), it was clear that my main priority in life was travel. I spent my 21st birthday surfing on Waikiki Beach in Hawaii without a care in the world. I confess to having booked that trip without consulting my boss at the bank I was working at. She called me into her office to say, “You go on that trip, you’re out of a job, kid. Your choice.”
I decided to go on the trip.
Typing these words, I can hardly believe that 21-year-old me would do such an irresponsible thing but, bless my boss’s heart, she allowed me to go on the trip and then rehired me. It was a good thing, too, because I needed to scrape together some money so that later in the year I could embark on the second big defining trip of my life: South America.
This trip took on a whole new, mind-bending dimension of adventure for me and opened my eyes up to so many new things. For one, I traveled solo for the very first time. I had nobody to rely on but myself, which was fine because I enjoy my own company. Fortunately, however, I made many friends that summer from all over the world, which made the time pass a lot easier. Trekking around South America was also my first real exposure to traveling in places where someone’s first language was different than my own and communication wasn’t a given.
This was a total thrill and allowed me to improve upon the small amount of Spanish I was learning. I had taken a course called “Spanish for Travelers” before departing home, so it was a real-world application of the newfound words in my vocabulary.
That summer I hiked in Patagonia, snowboarded in the Andes, lost myself in La Paz, flew over the Nazca Lines, witnessed the awe and wonder of Machu Picchu, and camped in the Amazon jungle. I took dozens of rolls of film to document my travels and could not wait to get them developed so I could share the memories with my family.
Looking back, it’s amazing to me that my parents trusted me enough as a 21-year-old kid to head out and explore the world, but I thank them so much, because it taught me many valuable life lessons and was my formal introduction to becoming a diehard travel addict.
Many years and several trips around the globe later, I met my life partner Eileen in Iceland during the summer of 2008. We’ve been traveling the world together ever since and, as of 2017, we’ve been documenting and sharing our travels on YouTube with an audience of fellow travel lovers from around the globe. We had planned for one of our busiest years of travel yet when the global pandemic halted the travel industry in March of 2020.
It’s not all bad, though, because the time away from traveling has allowed me to take pause and reflect upon how thankful I am to have seen so much of the world. I’m so grateful to have had so many incredible opportunities to travel and meet so many extraordinary people from around the world.
I know that when the world reopens for travelers, I will have those same jitters I did as a young man heading out into the world for the first time. The world will look so bright, beautiful, and vivid, like viewing it through a crisp new lens. I’ll hardly be able to wait to fill my passport with new stamps, share new photos, and make new friendships and memories from the places I’ve been.
I will appreciate every little cultural experience so much and I will smile at everyone I see to say, “We got through this together and we are excited about everything this beautiful place has to offer!” Every morsel of food will taste so wonderful and new, and it will all just feel so surreal…like the first time. One of my favorite children’s books is Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go, which sums it up best:
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!
Marc Whiteway is a content creator and filmmaker who lives and breathes travel. He and his partner, Eileen Aldis, created a travel YouTube channel. In their first year creating travel content, they were selected as a Top Travel Vlog to Follow by Insight Guides. Embracing life and seeking adventure, they never pass up a chance to take the road less traveled, bring history and culture to life, and discover the delicious local cuisine. Capturing the moments and memories of life on the road sets this exuberant couple apart as they share their dream of exploring the world. Follow their adventures at YouTube.com/EileenAldis.
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